INDIANAPOLIS — What if looking down at your phone, tablet or computer screen could do more harm to your health than good?
Many people are used to using their devices on a daily basis and even to do business or work which creates a need to depend on technology more than ever. A 2021 Statistica survey of over 2,000 Americans 18-years-old and older shows 46% of people in the U.S. spend 46% of time on their phones daily.
The constant engagement can begin taking a toll on your body in a newer term called “tech neck.” It refers to the soreness, stiffness and even injury that can result from bending your head downward to look at an electronic device for too long according to NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.
Why is “tech neck” bad for you?
“Tech neck” can cause headaches, neck pain, pain in the shoulders, pain in the upper back, tingling or numbness in your hands and even a loss of the natural curve of the spine according to Steven Knauf, doctor of chiropractic and executive director of chiropractic and compliance at The Joint Chiropractic in Scottsdale, Arizona.
He shares that though the severity of symptoms may vary between people, they tend to be more prominent in those who use cell phones or other devices for extended periods of time.
Health experts say that “tech neck’ can also lead to posture problems and spending hours hovering over your phone or straining your neck forward can cause lengthening of neck muscles and shortening chest muscles.
They add you should work to be mindful of your posture throughout the day and try to correct it as soon as possible when you find yourself in an awkward position.
Everyday Health released 10 tips for those battling with “tech neck”
Doctors recommend that for the stretches/tips 1-8 that you do each 10 times and one to three times a day:
- Do chin tucks
- Start standing or sitting with your spine straight. Draw your head straight back like you’re making a double-chin. In this position you offset the effects of constantly thrusting your head forward (as you may do while looking at a screen) Make sure not to tilt your head back when doing this; keep your chin tucked in, but still parallel to the floor. Hold for five seconds, release. Then repeat.
- Try the ‘hand to ear’ stretch
- Place your right hand flat against the right side of your head, Knauf says. Try to tilt your head to your right shoulder while pushing against your hand. Hold for five seconds, release slowly, and repeat on the other side.
- Do the ‘hands to forehead’ stretch
- Place both hands on your forehead and while keeping your chin parallel to the floor try to push your head forward while also pushing your head back with your hands. Hold for five seconds and repeat.
- Practice the cobra pose
- Start lying down on the floor on your belly with your head looking down. Lift your head and upper chest off the ground with only minimal support from your hands. Hold for 15 to 30 seconds. It stretches the back and neck in the opposite position to the one that causes “tech neck,” therefore helping counter the imbalance.
- Try some super(wo)mans
- Lie on your stomach and alternately raise your right arm and left leg, then left arm and right leg, off the ground. Hold for a second or two, lower, and repeat.
- Check your spine alignment
- Ensure you are holding your phone at level and not looking down at your devices. Try to Check yourself multiple times throughout the day to ensure you haven’t slipped into an old, not-so-healthy posture.
- Use a standing desk
- You can use a standing desk or even a treadmill desk, your choice. they both will encourage continuous and small movements throughout the day. This will help keep you from clamping down your neck muscles.
- Take a break
- At least once an hour get up and move around. Doing stretches and rolling your neck will help loosen up tight muscles. This can prevent the spasms and stiffness that lead to “tech neck”.
- Roll your shoulders back
- Roll your shoulders up and back as you shift your head back. This keeps muscles moving and repositions your body in a healthful way
- Limit screen time
- our job may require you to spend much of the day in front of a screen. If this is you, try to use your nonwork time doing things that don’t require you to be in front of a screen. Use that time for something fun that’s also good for your physical and mental health, like going for a walk, hanging out with friends face-to-face or taking a nap.